The Great Pumpkin Caper

October 18, 2007

Looking in the rear-view mirror, I could see the grin splitting his face underneath eyes that were firm, determined, and dancing with excitement all at the same time.

Our big brown van – a 15 passenger Ford Clubwagon – is hardly what you would call “inconspicuous”, but that only added to the fun challenge that we had given ourselves. My son Joshua had the “package” – a orange, jack-o-lantern shaped goodie bag filled with licorice and bags of popcorn – in his hand and was standing by the double-wide side door, with one hand on the handle, ready to leap out at a moment’s notice.

Driving casually, as if nothing was happening, we passed right by the house. Giggles erupted from the back seats as I said, “We’ll just drive right by, like nothing is happening… they’ll never even notice us!” “Never notice us! Right dad!” I could hear Esther saying. That made everyone laugh all the more.

Once past the house, I stopped and looked back… only to see the lady of the house looking out the big, massive windows on the south side of the house. Hehe.. Sure, they’d never see us or suspect us. After all, we were the only ones in the neighborhood that had a big brown 15 passenger van! Humm, maybe I should have pulled forward out of eye sight of those windows!

And Margie told me as much, “Pull forward, honey – at least TRY to be secretive about this!” More laughter – except from Joshua. He’d been given a mission and was determined to fulfill it.

Of course it would be Joshua – my 9-year-old. Everyone knew it. He is by far the fasted runner of our children. Plus, he is clever about things and would know just how and where to put the secret package so as to get away the fastest.

I pulled forward out of line of sight. Turning around, I gave Joshua the “signal.” In a flash he was out of the car, running low along the fence line, creeping along side our victim’s car, pausing to assess the situation. “Hum – front door or back door? Dog at the front door – he’s sure to bark and blow my cover. Back door is only a few feet from their car – the car will be good cover for me on the get-away.”

With cat-like stealth he was gone, passing like a shadow from the car to the backdoor, always keeping a tight grip on the large treat bag – the “package” – that he held in his hands. Victory was in sight.. .here came the drop… now the doorbell… reaching, reaching… and then… CRISIS! RED ALERT! RETREAT!

Just at that moment, the lady of the house had decided to come to the back hallway to hang up a sweater. With a shock of thrill, Joshua realized that if he rang that bell, she would be sure to look straight at him. The better part of reason took over and his hand withdrew – they’d find it when they came out to the car… no bell needed.

The small shadow crossed down the stairs again and with the speed of lighting he shot across the driveway, back behind the car and then retraced his steps down the fence line where the get-away car waited with door open, ready to flee into the night!

As we sped away and rounded the corner, the entire interior of the car erupted with screams of glee and cries of laughter! The feeling of pure thrill and excitement filled each heart as we thought of the little deed of secret service we had just pulled off. To think of the happiness that goodie bag would bring the children in that home and the fun they would have guessing, “Who dunit??!!” was more than we could bear!

In the 90 seconds it took to get home and out of the car, I realizee something… there it was again – that feeling. The feeling of family. The feeling of unrestrained joy. The feeling of happiness and excitement. The feeling of enthusiasm. The feeling of unity and love with everyone in the family.

It was the “Home Feeling.”

Oh! How I LOVE that feeling. It just sends tingles up and down my spine. It melts away all the stress and struggle and turmoil of life. It brings out the sunshine and dispels clouds of doom. It makes life worth-while. It makes everything OK.

Yep… we had the “Home Feeling” something strong that night… the night of the great pumpkin caper.